Best Venues to Watch Local Bands in Chicago


The city of Chicago has a rich musical history and has influenced, and been influenced by, numerous genres. With hundreds of venues to choose from — from dive bars to ornate concert halls — the city's music scene is as rich as ever. Here are five of the best venues across Chicago to catch some up-and-coming talent.

Metro
The Metro hosts local and touring bands of all genres that are right on the cusp of notoriety but not quite Beyonce yet. The Smashing Pumpkins, Bob Dylan, Prince and many other legends have graced its stage at various points in their careers. There really isn't a bad spot to watch a show at the 1,100-capacity Metro, as its floor and balcony space provide a comfortable amount of room. Plus, in the basement you'll find Smart Bar, which primarily is a dance club that hosts some of the top DJs.

Schubas
Sister venue to the larger Lincoln Hall, 200-capacity Schubas Tavern hosts some of the best local and touring indie and folk acts. The relaxed atmosphere and good acoustics work in synergy with the intimate singer-songwriter vibe Schubas has going on. The venue is the place to catch acts before they hit the mainstream. It even hosted one of Dave Matthews Band's first shows — though some might wish that was the band's last show.

Double Door
The 473-capacity Double Door promotes new artists with an alternative, gritty rock vibe. It also gets the occasional superstar act, including Rise Against and Wilco, to play to its smaller crowds. Sadly, Double Door likely will be vacating its Wicker Park space by the end of the year, but it plans to maintain a presence somewhere in Chicago.

Empty Bottle
Behind Empty Bottle's modest facade lies one of Chicago's top indie rock venues. The intimate, 400-capacity space always makes for a good time, with its front lounge area, complete with a pool table, and bar in the back with the stage. It also makes for a cheap night, with prices being minimal and local shows usually free. Besides emerging talent, Empty Bottle also has hosted big names, such as the Strokes and Modest Mouse.

The Vic
The Victoria Theatre — almost always referred to as the Vic — plays host to a variety of artists, mostly in the rock, pop or indie realm. The 1,400-capacity venue is somewhat of a spectacle itself. The theater is a five-story vaudeville house built in 1912 with every luxury of the time. Despite its slightly larger size, the venue still feels intimate with good sight lines and sound.

Mary Daly is a journalist from Chicago. She used to have so many ticket stubs from these venues.